Top Lebanese politician Gebran Bassil infected with coronavirus

Gebran Bassil, a Lebanese politician and head of the Free Patriotic movement, talks during an interview with Reuters in Sin-el-fil, Lebanon July 7, 2020. (File/Reuters)
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Updated 28 September 2020

Top Lebanese politician Gebran Bassil infected with coronavirus

  • Bassil is the son-in-law of Lebanese President Michel Aoun and a former foreign minister who heads the country’s largest Christian political bloc
  • He discovered he was infected on Saturday after several tests

BEIRUT: Former Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil has been infected with the coronavirus, he said on Sunday, as cases surge throughout the country.

Bassil, the son-in-law of Lebanese President Michel Aoun and leader of the country’s largest Christian political bloc, said he had tested positive for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on Saturday.

The party said he had a mild case of the disease and had made it public as a “message to everyone who has had contact with him recently.” He would quarantine himself until he overcame the virus, it said.

“Bassil wanted to issue this statement to inform all those he was recently in contact with, as they could not all be contacted individually, and to apologize for not knowing in advance about the matter,” the political party said in the statement.

The statement did not specify when Bassil last met with the 85-year-old Aoun.

Lebanon’s leading politicians have been meeting frequently in recent weeks amid efforts to form a new government.

The country has seen a spike in coronavirus infections following a devastating Aug. 4 port blast. On Saturday, the country registered a record 1,280 new daily infections. The virus has killed at least 340 people.

Bassil is widely unpopular among Lebanon’s street protesters, many of whom made sarcastic comments on social media.

“Corona announces that it has been infected with the Gebran Bassil virus,” one wrote.

He is the third Lebanese politician to be infected, after former minister Mohammed Safadi and current caretaker Foreign Minister Charbel Wehbe.

 


Iran shuts government offices, tightening virus restrictions

Updated 27 November 2020

Iran shuts government offices, tightening virus restrictions

  • The report did not specify how long the closures would last
  • It asked Iranians to postpone any planned visits to government offices

TEHRAN: Iran on Friday announced that all government offices will effectively close and operate with only essential staff, further tightening coronavirus measures as the country struggles to contain its most widespread wave of infection yet.
Starting this Saturday — the first day of Iran’s workweek — state TV said “only those employees who need to be present will be at work” in government offices. Managers will make the call on who must still come to work.
The report did not specify how long the closures would last, but asked Iranians to postpone any planned visits to government offices.
Infections have soared in recent months, and on Friday, Iran again set a record for new virus cases in a single day with 14,051 cases, bringing the total to 922,397.
Iran has also recorded more than 400 daily virus deaths since last Saturday, the same day new tightened restrictions went into effect. Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said the death toll on Friday reached 47,095, after 406 people died since Thursday.
Since Saturday, some government offices and organizations had closed or began working with less than 30% of their employees, while banks, post offices, communications and other utilities worked with half their staff.
Those new lockdown measures also included shuttering most businesses, shops, malls, and restaurants, and are set to last two weeks.
Iran’s government had recently resisted shutting down the country in an attempt to salvage an economy cratered by unprecedented American sanctions, which effectively bar Iran from selling its oil internationally. The Trump administration reimposed sanctions in 2018 after withdrawing from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers.
Earlier this month, authorities ordered a month-long nightly curfew for businesses in Tehran and 30 other major cities and towns, asking nonessential shops to keep their workers home. Still, enforcement in the sprawling metropolis remains a challenge.